NUF Survey Results - Demographics



Uncomfortably close
Blog Posts:
Part 2 of the NUF Survey results. Table of contents at the bottom.

A general overview of who’s using NUF. Pretty much the sort of information you’d see in an actual census.

Nothing terribly surprising here, this is going to be a pretty boring section unless you're really enthusiastic about geography. Around 41% of respondents were from Asia, 27% were from North America, 20% were from Europe, 7% were from Oceania, and the rest were from South America or Africa.

Splitting that down further, the country with the most respondents was the US, with nearly all of the North American respondents other than a paltry few from Canada. Indonesia had the next largest population of NUF users, however, less than half of the Asian respondents were living in Indonesia. Asian respondents were entirely from either South Asia (primarily India, with a single respondent from Nepal) or the South East Asian archipelagos (Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, in that order of frequency). While Europeans made up a good chunk of the respondents, there was little "unity" in that only a handful came from any single country. The European nation with the most respondents was the UK, but other than that there was no observed pattern in the region of Europe respondents hailed from. Respondents from Oceania were mostly from Australia with several from New Zealand. South American respondents were mostly Argentinian and Brazilian, and African respondents were mostly Nigerian, however, there were too few responses from either continent to come to any conclusions, though there was one respondent who had moved from Africa and was living elsewhere and one respondent who had moved from Asia and was living in Africa.

In any case, Africa was the continent that had seen the most migration by percentage of the number of users there, as the population of Nuffians from Africa was quite small to begin with. Generally speaking, NUF users have stayed in the country of their birth. However, the rate of expatriation seems higher than the global average, with a little under 10% of NUF users reporting that they lived in a country that was different from their country of birth. Most of the movement was people from South Asia and SEA moving elsewhere in Asia or Europe. As might be expected of nations with higher GDPs, respondents born in the US and Europe seemed the least inclined to move elsewhere.

Language-wise, naturally, as English webnovel readers, NUF users all have some degree of fluency in English. Native languages were generally in-line with whatever the user's country of birth was. Chinese was the most common mother tongue NOT generally associated with the country of birth, suggesting that a fair number of NUF users are here because they are, as my Asian-American cousins would put it, "exploring their heritage" by becoming huge weebs. Notably, other than the Chinese Americans and Chinese Australians I was expecting, there were also a fair number of Chinese Brits. Chinese is also probably the most popular non-native fluent language, other than English, of course. This is particularly true in SEA, even outside of Singapore. The next most popular language to learn appears to be Japanese, a phenomenon which probably doesn't need much explanation. After that was actually French; I didn't see any particular pattern or reason for that in the non-native speakers, other than it being a language that's supposedly easy to learn and popular to teach in schools.

Respondents from Asia were by far the biggest polyglots. In addition to learning English (naturally), about half of them reported fluency in a third, fourth, or even fifth language, which meshes fairly well with my memories of childhood in SEA. Respondents from South Asia were slightly more modest in the number of languages they learned than SEA, but still outshone most other regions. On the other hand, in my reading of the responses to essay-type questions, respondents from South Asia on the whole generally provided answers demonstrating greater English proficiency than SEA respondents, perhaps as a result of more standardized English education, however, that isn't a metric that I can immediately quantify.

Conversely, respondents from the UK and US....I know we've won the struggle for linguistic hegemony, but only around 15% of us are trilingual or better....Though I suppose the fact that 33% of us know any second language at all puts us at something of an advantage compared to the rest of the US, even if that's in part thanks to the aforementioned Chinese Americans.

This section also isn't a bucket of surprises, but at least it's a lot shorter than the previous one. The age of NUF users can be summed up fairly simply with some descriptive statistics. The youngest respondents were 14, the oldest respondents were early 40s. The mean age was 22 and the median age was the same. The mode was 23. There was a sharp decline after the mid 20s, so the bulk of users appear to be between 17 and 26. In general, female users skewed towards the younger side, with a mean age of 20, but oddly, the mode age for female users was still 23.

Most (~55%) of respondents over the age of 30 appeared to be from SEA, and most of the rest were from Europe or Australia. Very few older respondents hailed from the US. Indeed, respondents from the US skewed several years younger than the global mean and median, even though the oldest respondent was American.

So yeah, the age of NUF users is pretty much exactly what you'd expect.

There's no way around this. NUF is by-and-large a sausage fest. Less than 20% of respondents identified as women, and this falls to 15% if only looking at physical sex (i.e. not transgender or intersex respondents). Even then, among the female respondents, it seemed a fair number of them were more interested in the buns than the hot dog, if you'll pardon the euphemism.

Anyway, as stated, NUF users are predominantly male. One user reported being intersex. Given the relative rareness of intersex individuals in the global population, this actually represents a higher percentage of intersex individuals than expected, but this can't be considered significant.

Transgender users also comprised a greater number of respondents than expected given global averages, however, once again, the sample size was too small to call the discrepancy particularly significant. The transgender respondents were only transgender women, without any respondents identifying as transgender men. I took the liberty of removing several "low-confidence" responses before analysis; in retrospect, it probably would have been better to just have an "Other" option without a field to specify what that meant, so as not to encourage..."creativity". Overall, though, these had little impact on the results.

On the subject of errors in question design, I realized some time after I had created the survey that I had forgotten to include a "bisexual" option for the question of sexuality. While some respondents chose "Other" and filled it in themselves, it made me question whether some respondents hadn't just selected the options of mostly preferring women or mostly preferring men out of convenience. Once again, in retrospect, I probably should have just had respondents rate themselves on the Kinsey scale or some similar measure.

Problems in design aside, the question of sexuality yielded some very interesting data. When crosstabulating gender and sexuality, the most striking thing is that, while a small number (~7%) of male respondents identified as some flavor of bisexual, no male respondents identified as purely feeling sexual attraction towards men. This is in sharp contrast to female respondents, of whom around 35% identified as some flavor of bisexual and around 15% identified as only being attracted to women. Additionally, about 7% of male respondents and another 15% of female respondents identified as asexual, for about 10% of all respondents. This left around 85% of male respondents and only 35% of female respondents identifying as purely heterosexual.

There's a number of things to unpack here.

To start off with, why are there so many asexual people? In the general population, only around 1% of people identify as asexual, a significant difference from NUF users. I first theorized that this may have had something to do with social factors; for example, those who identified as asexual did so because they had less desire to interact with other people, or perhaps those who identified as asexual were shunned by their peers and thus spent their time reading novels. However, this wasn't supported by the data; those who identified as asexual actually on the whole rated themselves as more extroverted than most other NUF users, and there was no significant difference in number of close friends or satisfaction with number of friends. Of the factors I considered, asexual respondents were slightly less happy than those of other sexual preferences, however, it was not a significant difference. One sentiment expressed by several respondents was that they were only attracted to 2D without much desire for romance with another human; perhaps other respondents who felt this way thought that "Asexual" was the best choice to represent their situation. This is not a theory that can be confirmed or denied by the data on hand.

Moving on. Why are there so many lesbians? At this point, I'd recommended that we change into NUFr, Grindr's distaff counterpart. As a bonus, why are there no gay men? Not only is there a strong correlation between being a non-heterosexual woman and being on NUF, there appears to be a weaker but still significant correlation between being a non-heterosexual man and staying the hell away. I posed this conundrum to some of my fellow translators at Ebisu and they proposed two theories that may hold some weight.

The first was that the majority of novels being translated were the sort of harem-y, jade-beauty-filled kind that provided more "service" for those interested in women than in men, and those who had that burst of titillation were more likely to further seek out translated webnovels and find their way to NUF. A corollary to this was that Danmei/BL novels were fundamentally geared towards women and weren't of much interest to actual gay men, which has been a sentiment I've previously heard expressed by gay men about the BL genre in general so I'm somewhat inclined to think that it's valid.

The second theory was that it was simply more socially acceptable for women to be "flexible" with their sexuality, and so they'd be more likely to casually consider sexual attraction towards other women. For men, it's more stigmatized to do so and so men would either have to "go hard or go home" when it comes to homoeroticism. This also seems to be fairly valid to me based on experience, and it isn't necessarily exclusive of the first theory.

Another, less convincing theory held that the overzealous Danmei fangirls were scaring away the gay guys. While this was mainly proposed in jest, perhaps there's some merit to considering social feedback; that is, because there's so few gay men, new gay users feel less welcome and are less likely to stay. The only gay user I can recall openly talking about his sexuality has been @Saphsaph , and while he's active here, he's not incredibly so. Inversely, users like @Ai chan and @AliceShiki are both amazingly active and quite willing to open up about their Sapphic experiences. In the same vein, I can recall seeing users fairly frequently express some degree of aversion to male homosexuality, but very rarely to female homosexuality (and even then, usually just in the context of reading yuri novels). However, the social feedback theory holds less weight for me because, frankly, most discussion on this site doesn't involve sexuality, and even Ai chan probably doesn't spend her entire day trying to attract more lesbians to NUF, so, while it’s probably a factor, I'm not sure it's a powerful enough effect to fully explain the statistical discrepancy.

Alas, with the data collected, all I can do is theorize. Whether this is a broader social issue, a NUF community issue, or a physical difference in how men and women are wired is, naturally, beyond the scope of the survey.

Moving on to romance, most (~63%) respondents were single and weren't particularly looking to change that fact. About 21% of them were single but were on the market for a new significant other. The rest of the respondents who provided information were in romantic relationships, most (but not all!) of which were monogamous. It is, of course, entirely possible that the respondents claiming to be in polygamous relationships were not answering truthfully, but given that most of their answers appeared to be serious it seems biased to doubt them in this capacity.

Incidentally, while trying to look up incidence rates for polygamy in the global population, I came across an article somewhat in favor of polyamory. It's unrelated to this survey, I just found it slightly humorous that the BBC would take that position.

Other than that, the other question relating to romance that received meaningful responses was whether respondents preferred to romantically pursue or be romantically pursued by someone they were interested in. The large part (~45%) of respondents responded with both, about 28% of respondents said they had no interest, 25% said they'd like to be pursued, and the small number of remaining respondents say they'd prefer to pursue. About 26% of respondents who wanted to be pursued were female, showing a slight correlation for passivity in starting relationships with being female, however, this was not particularly strong. Those who wanted to pursue the target of their affection were evenly split between being female and male, but there weren't enough respondents who chose that to determine significance. Overall, the marked preference for passivity over pursuit conforms to the stereotype of NUF being filled with "herbivores", though those who preferred both still possessed a plurality. While no respondents identifying as asexual stated that they were looking for a relationship, about a third expressed a preference other than "No Interest" when asked about whether they'd prefer to be romantically pursued or pursue a potential partner, perhaps indicating that "asexual" does not necessarily imply "aromantic" for those respondents.

Levels of education and employment could generally be predicted by the age group of NUF. Household income was within expected values given user location. Income was perhaps slightly lower than expected, but generally also in line with NUF users mostly being in their early 20s. NUF users who are employed are a fairly even mix of blue collar, service, and professional workers.

After reviewing the responses for education, I realize that there were certain improvements that could have been made to the question to make the data more usable. In the end, I got too specific in post-secondary education. When I was doing the analysis, I decided to merge the holders of the Bachelor's, Associate's, and trade/technical/vocational degrees into one category and the Master's, Professional, and Doctorate holders into another. I probably shouldn't have included "No education" and instead just had an "Other" option, given the unlikelihood of there being any illiterate people on NUF. Likewise, "Below high school/secondary school" received so few responses it could have been merged into an "Other" option.

Anyhow, around 23% of respondents had received some high school or equivalent education, about 15% had graduated high school but had not received further education, about 22% had received some college education, about 35% of respondents reported receiving a Bachelor's degree or one of the equivalents in that category, and less than 5% had received a Master's degree or higher. A significantly higher portion of NUF users have gone to college than the global average. Perhaps this was to be expected given that Asian and African users who fluently speak English as a non-native language are more likely to come from a well-educated background, but levels of education were also significantly higher than expected for the US and Europe. Interestingly, Europeans were more likely to currently be in college, but that can be explained by Europeans being more likely to enter college a few years later than students elsewhere. Respondents from Australia were actually less likely to have gone to college than expected, but not significantly so. Ultimately, it appears reading and spending time frivolously on online fora are, by-and-large, hobbies of the well-educated.

Employment-wise, though, NUF users are somewhat less employed than usual, with about 45% unemployed and not looking for work and 23% unemployed and looking for work. Even controlling for those in school and not old enough to work, unemployment rate is higher than usual. Of the remaining, 10% are employed part-time, 15% are employed full-time, and the rest are self-employed. On reflection, there's a fairly intuitive way to explain higher-than-average unemployment here: users on NUF are likely some of the heavier readers, and unemployed people have more time to read.

As for average household income, when recording the responses I noticed some improvements that could have been made to the question design. Despite @LysUltima insisting my ranges didn't go high enough, if anything, I overestimated the income of people outside the US. Maybe the simplicity of just being able to click <$10k contributed to relatively low number of respondents who declined to answer compared to my expectations. In retrospect, though, given that I once lived in SEA I probably should have recognized that this was poorly designed. Perhaps it would be better to ask about general socioeconomic status rather than exact income figures, but that's somewhat more complex and may provide less accurate data or respondents may be less inclined to answer. I ended up grouping respondents into four household income groups, <10k USD, 10k-20k USD, 20k-50k USD, 50k-100k USD, and >100k USD. As for asking about personal income, most NUF users are unemployed and even the ones that are employed mostly skipped that question (probably because it didn't differ from household income), so the data gathered was too sparse and scattered to be of any real use.

Anyway, 45% of respondents who provided income information had a household income of less than 10k USD. Sixteen percent were between 10k and 20k, 18% made between 20k and 50k, 12% made between 50k and 100k, and 9% made >100k USD. Income was, naturally, heavily region-dependent. Average household income in SEA is between USD 1k and 9k, and even lower for countries with respondents in South America and Africa, so with <10k USD being the lowest possible answer it's somewhat difficult to see if NUF users were slightly wealthier or poorer than average. Most users in the higher income brackets were from the US, Oceania, and Western Europe, as expected. For those regions, income was lower than average, however, as noted earlier, it was still within expectations for early-20-year-olds newly independent of their families.

As for a question that turned out to be mostly useless, as it turns out, no respondents are now or have ever been in the military other than a small number of Singaporeans who have mandatory national service. Given that the average age of NUF users and active-duty soldiers is fairly similar, it could just be that any members of the military just don't have time to read novels or be on NUF.

NUF users are a fairly non-religious bunch. Those who consider themselves religious to those who don't are split about 30:70. On the other hand, they are slightly more likely than not to come from a religious family, with about 65% coming from a religious family and 35% coming from a non-religious family. It's difficult to say whether these proportions are significantly different from non-NUF users as rates of religiosity vary by country and by age. What's clear is that NUF users are pretty in line with the trend of the younger generation being more theologically skeptical with the advancement of the information age.

Anyway, there was a fairly predictable correlation between region and religion, with the majority of religious respondents hailing from SEA. A little over half of SEA respondents were religious, primarily Muslim with some Christianity and one Buddhist respondent. Respondents from the US and Europe were primarily Christian, with the Christian denominations being split between Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy in that order of frequency. Other than those religions, about 5% of respondents were Hindu, mostly being Indian. Interestingly, no respondents from Oceania were religious, which seems odd until you remember that one of the major countries is a desert continent abandoned by god and the other is under the iron rule of Sauron....joking. Honestly, I haven't got an explanation other than random statistical luck. Other than that, the least religious regions for respondents were North America and Europe, with only around 15% and 17% of respondents being religious in either region, respectively. The least religious SEA country was Singapore, in line with expectations. Respondents from other regions were religious and non-religious in proportions not significantly different from the NUF average. I also asked religious respondents to rate how serious they were about their religion, however, there was no particular demographic correlation for religious seriousness.

When looking at the respondents' families, there are some similarities in this trend, with almost no SEA respondents' families being non-religious except in Singapore. European families are religious in similar proportion to the respondents, and somewhere in the ballpark of 30% of Australian respondents' families are religious. However, looking at North America, only 23% of respondents come from non-religious families. This is a fairly significant discrepancy, indicating that for whatever reason, American respondents are particularly disinclined to take up the faith of their forebears. In terms of change in percentage of religious population, this is even more drastic than certain SEA countries going from near 100% religious to just a little over 50% in a single generation. While the ultimate result means that American respondents are in line with other Western respondents in terms of religion, the cause for the older generation of Americans being that much more religious than elsewhere and the disappearance of that effect in the younger generation are not issues I'm fully equipped to explore or answer.

It seems like the full results were too long to be included in a single blog post, so here's a handy table of contents to which I'll be adding links once I make the posts.

  • Introduction
  • Demographics (You are here)
    • Location & Language
    • Age
    • Gender, Sexuality, & Romance
    • Education & Employment
    • Religion
  • Meta-Survey
    • Useless Questions
    • Bad Faith
    • Declining to Answer
  • Lifestyle
    • Novel Preferences
    • Recreation & Exercise
    • Family
    • Friends & Pets
    • (Yet Another) NU Section
  • Personality & Society
    • Happiness
    • Self-Harm & Psychiatry
    • Self-Evaluation
    • Social Views
    • Bonus Round: NUF Dating
    • Experiences
    • Preferences

You, Noble Ran, iampsyx and 16 others like this.


    1. OnceandFutureLurker May 10, 2019
    2. AliceShiki May 29, 2018
    3. MasterCuddler May 29, 2018
      ...I’m kinda regretting giving troll answers now..
    4. Seraphic May 9, 2018
      @Encore Haha, man, it took me a month to do this much, if I were making this a proper report with figures, graphs, and precise statistics I probably wouldn't be able to get it out until next year.
    5. Gyoza May 9, 2018
      So incredibly fascinating. You did an excellent job @Seraphic . Now if only there was a visual component.
      Vincey, AliceShiki and Seraphic like this.
    6. AliceShiki May 9, 2018
      @Ai chan You can change your rating if you refresh the page IIRC! >.<
    7. Ai chan May 8, 2018
      Umm, Ai-chan is not sure if Ai-chan rated this blog correctly. Is there a way to redo it? Anyhow, did you stalk Ai-chan or something? :blobconfused:

      Shh, Ai-chan is your goddess.